Archive for category Team
“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein.
I was about to write another one in the scope of “Getting them…” targeted for Product Owners (PO), however thought that before getting them (stories) out of the sprints it is crucial for sprint success how to get them (team members) on it right…
So story going to be about how PO influences team focus and instills feeling of urgency and what happens if he/she’s not…
To understand this we would need to get back to Sprint Planning meeting (SPM). When PO makes final accords, accepts team commitment and sends team out to the sprint it is very important for everyone to stay focused on the Goals PO presented.
If PO jumps in mid-sprint, having unplanned acceptance criteria, special circumstances, etc… this sends a message: goal is void, direction is being changed, things that had been agreed at SPM are not valid anymore.
Scrum is tense way of delivering software. Constructive tension comes from high commitment and builds up high velocity (aka deliver fast lean principle) that is impossible to achieve without addressing limited and fixed number of issues within timebox.
Let’s understand how this works…
Higher velocity is achieved by staying focused on what is most important. As soon as this vector changes, something that had been important yesterday, becomes less important today, or something else emerges focus drifts away.
But velocity is not single thing this impacts…
More drastic effect this has on team morale, since besides team has to conduct context-switch (that has it’s own impact: see another related post here), but also it throws team into “Less” vicious circle that is:
- Less focus that eats up energy and leads to …
- Less energy that impacts productivity and leads to …
- Less commitment that impacts desire to work and leads to…
- Less motivation that drain attention and lead to …
- Less focus …
- Etc …
Understanding this will help PO to plan sprints in the way to avoid de-focus, protect sprints from interference (and team members from de-focus) and minimize impact of unplanned issues.
Of course fire-fights happen, of course they are important, but it makes sense to dive in root causes and build real quality in rather than fight consequences… and eventually turn circle back into “More..” :).
Knowing what drives yourself and your peers is an esssential key to manage self and people around you. Being it work or private life.
There are many different classifications of what keeps one motivated. I would like to share simple one I apply and found it practically useful to understand what can keep myself and my colleagues motivated (or de-motivated)…
It is based on 5 simple types of motivators – key motives (or incentives) that influence our behavior:
1. Achievement: I will achieve that (to prove myself that I can do it), to feel better. Get it DONE is important for me! Capitalization by investing into the self is usually a real driver for this type of motivator. A burning desire to achieve certain goal has some purpose (to get better, stronger, experienced, more professional, etc…) and constant challenge that keeps me “running”. If such a person lacks challenge or does not sees the “horizon” of self growth he/she starts feeling de-motivated.
2. Social: will do it to earn respect and praise of my colleagues (spouse, friend, etc..). People, having social motivator as a key one care for others opinion more and work towards shaping them to comply to their expectations. If socially driven person doesn’t get praise (or worse gets blame instead) for a while he/she starts get de-motivated.
3. Reward: I will do it to get a reward. The ‘carrot’ thing that can be money but also career growth, benefits, etc… This motivator is easiest to claim, while weakest to retain. Some roles do require reward motivator (e.g. salesguys), but beware of people that have only this motivator as a key one.
4. Process: I like it.I like to do my painting, knitting, etc.., primarily not for getting it done but for the process itself. I enjoy making changes and pace, creativity, investigations, etc. Key root of this type of motivation is freedom to act in the scope of desired and beloved type of activity. As soon as you put a pressure on such a person he/she gets de-motivated.
5. Idea: I believe in that. Strongest one (and only one that actually can be grown up). People do revolutions driven by idea. Those guys stay if company values match with their own value stream. They care less about other motivators if this is the case. If views of such a person do not match with employer/bosses he/she becomes de-motivated and eventually leaves the company.
There are no right or wrong, good/bad motivators. All that makes difference that different types of activities/roles at your company require different qualities (you know the best), that one needs to recognize and consider when staffing.
Here’re some examples of types of motivators that usually (but not necessarily) suit better different positions/roles:
- Sales guy: usually driven by Achievement + Reward motivators;
- Account manager: usually driven by Achievement + Process motivator;
- Programmer: usually driven by Process+ Achievement motivator;
- HR manager: usually driven by Social + Idea motivator;
- CEO: usually driven by Idea + Achievement motivator;
Usually each of us have 1-2 motivators as a key ones. The trick is how to recognize and motivate using that information (should have another post on this).
To be continued…
Thanks to Vlad Zavadsky (an inventor of the approach and business trainer at Runa Consulting group).
There are thousands of articles and blogposts about what makes a strong team. Here’s my view on what makes bunch of people being a TEAM and what qualities strong team should have. It is based on observation of all successful (and therefore strong) teams I’ve ever met, experience working with and/or built.
Assumption: it would be necessary to assume that group of people shall have common Goal as key motive and prerequisite to become a TEAM.
1. Self-commitment: this is key important characteristic of a strong team. Commitment to the team, putting the team interests first—and commitment to each individual on the team in helping him or her become everything he or she can.
2. Brand: this is aligned vision, strategy, purpose and values of the team. Team identity, both internally spoken/unspoken and transported inside and outside. These are the things every team member believes in and those that are “reflected” in team norms and via way team perceived from outside, that determines unique team behavior, team distinctiveness. This is team motivator first place and only second place team “label”.
3. Trust and care: mutual trust and value of each other, expressed in giving positiveness to each other regularly and helping out just if someone feels bad for whatever reason. Not being afraid to be/look vulnerable to each other. Standing for each other in hard times! All for one and one for all!
4. Peer-pressure: to be able to move, team should have a mechanism that keeps “wheels rotating” daily. Either a team lead (or a peer-pressure in self-organized teams). That is managerial ability of a team to put constructive pressure and spread sense of urgency and accountability around peers that makes team doing whatever is needed to achieve the Goal.
5. “Short Distance” for continuous improvement: having time together creates a good context where “distance” becomes “shorter”, leading to being more comfortable and open with non-comfortable questions, – key for state known as “storming” (see Tuckman’s stages of group development) that is indefensible for team to change (self-improve). Strong teams embrace change when they need to.
6. Transparently communicating: to understand each other, a team has to be willing to invest the time necessary to share their states, feelings and opinions openly. Without talking and listening to each other on a daily basis, team may fall apart. And it’s very important to happen also informally, not just during status meetings or stand-ups.
7. One Boat in to win-win: there is no my/your work to be done or my/your goals to be met or “I’m done, now it’s your turn while I’ll slack around…”. Responsibility and accountability for everything team does and is shared among team members. Successes and failures, happiness and disappointment, praise and blame is a shared pie to eat.
There are many other specific traits that different teams have, however those mentioned, are common pattern for almost all strong ones, regardless of what they are up to, what business they are working for, etc.
Recently I observed an interesting trap one team fall into. When asked how confident guys feel about hitting the target, they was almost jointly saying they’re absolutely confident, however burndown chart trend told me they won’t make it.
Well, I am absolutely sure that this is what we all want to have – 100% confidence, however here’s the dangerous trap.
We may stay satisfied and oversee problems (or pretend that tomorow the problems will be gone). Or try not to rise them. Or feel uncomfortable rising them. Or think that others will feel uncomfortable if we raise them, etc…
But, they will NOT disappear. Problems usually have tendency to pile up… And when such a team recognizes that, it’s already too late…. and painful.
Kaizen mindset and “Toyota way of Lean Leadership” cultivate culture of “continuous crisis” that requires continuous improvement . Only having daily cultivated feeling of urgency and need, maintains the rhythm of tense and productive environment that reduces risk of facing a FAILURE.
As Toyota management team stated in 2010:
“We realized we need to develop a grater sense of urgency, in our business. Success is good, but without urgency serious weakness sets in, customer focus declines, creative ideas dry up and before you know it, you’re in trouble”.
So here is the trick to recognize: before you know it, you’re in trouble.
But the word and concept has negative tone and may have de-motivating impact on a team. How to make it distinct and positive?
Here is an advice…
Unlike panic or hysteria, urgency is a constructive, ordered and focused sense, therefore it should not de-motivate. Simply because it results in targeted and the only correct decision and action. Deffer commitment + deliver fast, guys!
To illustrate this imagine fighter aircraft pilot that needs to make the only correct decision and act accordingly within 10 seconds left before he may crash. And here is the difference that also proven by multiple real-life cases:
- Panic: an ordinary pilot most likely starts to hit all buttons around (maximizes focus and work-in-progress) or worse, thinks about death (we will fail…), not believing that this happens to him (we will not fail, I do not see problem, it’s not about us/me…);
- Urgency: trained pilot usually freezes for 7 seconds (analysis, defer commitment), makes decision, then within 3 remaining seconds quickly does (focused, fast) the only correct action to stabilize aircraft;
Feel the difference?
A takeaway is simple: stay open-eyed with reality, constantly challenge your confidence, do not fall into trap of satisfied optimism, distinguish among your will and reality, spread urgency around and stay hungry © for constant improvement.